US20070213132A1 - Slot machine - Google Patents

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US20070213132A1
US20070213132A1 US11405770 US40577006A US2007213132A1 US 20070213132 A1 US20070213132 A1 US 20070213132A1 US 11405770 US11405770 US 11405770 US 40577006 A US40577006 A US 40577006A US 2007213132 A1 US2007213132 A1 US 2007213132A1
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game
player
gaming
game programs
defined
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Abandoned
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US11405770
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Ward Chilton
Shawn Van Asdale
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Van Asdale Shawn M
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Chilton Ward W
Van Asdale Shawn M
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/326Game play aspects of gaming systems
    • G07F17/3262Player actions which determine the course of the game, e.g. selecting a prize to be won, outcome to be achieved, game to be played
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting

Abstract

The present invention relates to a gaming machine capable of playing a large number of games from a game library stored in an associated memory. The gaming machine overcomes prior inefficiencies by allowing the player to enter desired search criterion and thereby filter the number of available games to a manageable size from which to choose. The search criterion may be made up of a word or words entered by the player and/or the player may limit the search by selecting one of a variety of pre-defined limitations. Preferably the search criterion is compared to a database reflecting the games available in the game library. The game library may be maintained by a central game server that is connected to the gaming machine (and others like it) over a network. As an alternative to searching a game library electronically, a means is also provided to review at least a portion of the games in the game library at a physical display booth. Once a game of interest to a player is selected at the display booth, a variety of methods are disclosed for transferring the selected game to a gaming machine.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/370471.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to a gaming system employing a plurality of gaming terminals where the gaming terminals are capable of playing one of several games stored in a vast game library preferably on a central game server. More particularly, the present invention provides a new and improved method for a player to select which game to play from the library of available games. Gaming terminals are devices which upon a player making a wager, the player may win an award. Gaming terminals include machines more commonly referred to as slot machines and video lottery terminals. There are many types of games that can be played on these gaming devices including but not limited to slots, video poker, keno, bingo, pachinko and blackjack.
  • Conventional gaming terminals or gaming machines typically have a cabinet and a gaming display mounted inside the cabinet. The gaming display may be mechanical, such as a series of stepper reels that carry gaming symbols on the reels, or may be electronic such as a video display that is capable of generating video images of gaming symbols. Whether mechanical or electronic, the gaming display may be capable of generating images associated with a game, such as poker, blackjack, slots, keno, pachinko or bingo. The gaming machine is controlled by a processor with an associated memory.
  • The gaming machine is configured for a player to input something of value used to make a wager, which can include a standard denomination of currency, a ticket, and/or any other representation of currency or credit. Once the player inputs a wager,-the player may then activate the device. Upon activation, in the case of a slot machine, a plurality of reels which are either mechanical or represented on the video screen spin and ultimately stop to display a random combination of some form of symbol, for example, numbers or symbols. If the display contains one of a plurality of winning combinations, the machine issues an award. The amount of award will typically depend on the winning combination that is achieved. The gaming machine then either releases money into a payout chute, issues a ticket, issues credits onto a credit meter, or indicates and awards the winning amount to the player in any suitable manner. Often the award amount is related to the initial amount wagered.
  • Similarly, with respect to video poker, once a player inputs a wager, a number of cards is displayed and ultimately the player's poker hand ranking is evaluated. With respect to other types of gaming devices discussed above, the appropriate display is shown to the player upon activation of the gaming device and awards are given based on the specific rules of each game. Regardless of whether the gaming machine is displaying reels, or cards or a keno game, the activation of the game will generally be referred to herein as a spin.
  • Gaming machines that use a video display to display the game can easily be reprogrammed to display a different game or even a different game type by accessing a different program in the memory. For instance, it is a simple matter to change a video slot game into a video poker game—only the program being run by the processor of the gaming machine needs to be changed. Additionally, recent advances in technology now allow machines that use mechanical stepper motors to drive physical reels to change the symbols displayed on the reels via programming and therefore change the game being displayed.
  • For several years, gaming machines using a video display have stored a number of games, sometimes as many as ten, on internal EPROMs. EPROMs provided a level of inherent security for the gaming machine because the data stored on the EPROM could not easily be changed. However, the storage capacity of EPROMs is very limited. Therefore, in order to store up to ten games, the graphics and sounds used for the games were generally simpler and less attractive than the games on gaming machines storing only a single game program. As encryption and authentication methods have become more sophisticated however, gaming regulators have approved the use of mass storage devices such as hard drives for use in gaming machines. Gaming machines equipped with such hard drives could store literally hundreds of simple games on a single hard drive. Further, by connecting such a gaming machine to a networked system, the gaming machine could download from a central server a single “complex” game from a library of hundreds or even thousands of such games.
  • Obviously, when the gaming machine used EPROMs to store ten or fewer games, it was a relatively simple matter for the player to select which of the stored games he wished to play. Typically, the gaming machine would display ten icons, one corresponding to each available game, and the player would pick the desired game by selecting the associated icon. When the number of available games is far greater in number than ten, this system is inefficient and will largely result in the player wasting valuable time looking for a game to his liking. Additionally, the player may get frustrated and leave a machine if he cannot find his desired game. The present invention overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art method for game selection.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In the present invention the player is provided an improved and new method of selecting one game from a library of several games that are available for play on a gaming machine. This is accomplished by first developing a database based on the library of available games. The database and/or the library of available games may be stored on the gaming machine, but preferably both the library and the database are stored on a central server that may be accessed by the gaming machine via a network. The database includes such things as the game type, the game's title, descriptive words associated with the game, general information about the game, such as the number of lines, reel layout, denomination, bonus game types, and may include mathematical information about the game such as bonus game frequency, jackpot frequency, hit frequency and volatility. The player may enter a search term or terms that will be compared to the database to display to the player a list of the available games that match the search term(s). Preferably the search term is entered by the player using a full-size QWERTY keyboard displayed on the video display of the gaming machine coupled to a touch screen. Alternatively, an auxiliary screen, such as a screen used for a player tracking system interface may be used. The player's search may also be limited using pre-defined search-limiting items preferably comprising some of the available general and/or mathematical information.
  • In addition, the improved method of game selection may be performed at a location remote from the gaming machine to be used. For instance, the player may use a specialized kiosk provided by the casino to access the database of available games. The casino may even allow players to access its database of available games over the Internet. In which case, the player can chose a game at home to play on a future trip to a specific casino. When the database is accessed remotely rather than from a gaming machine, the game selected by the player may be associated with a player's player ID number stored on the player's player tracking card such that when the player inserts his card into a gaming machine capable of playing the selected game, that game is automatically loaded for play. Alternatively, the player may be provided with a ticket that, upon insertion into a gaming machine, will load the desired game. As another alternative, the player may be provided with a unique number (i.e., PIN) that identifies the game that the player has selected. The player may then enter the PIN at the gaming machine to access his game.
  • In another alternative embodiment, a display booth is provided that physically displays information about a large portion of the game library and provides players with either tickets or PINs for the games players wish to play.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a gaming machine that may be used to employ the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of the electronic configuration of an embodiment of the gaming device of the present invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a network with a plurality of gaming machines and a central gaming server that may be used to employ the present invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a screen shot of a gaming machine employing one embodiment of the present invention to search a database for a library of available games.
  • FIG. 5 is a screen shot of a gaming machine employing one embodiment of the present invention to display available games that correspond to the search entered in FIG. 4.
  • FIG. 6 is a screen shot of a gaming machine employing an alternative embodiment of the present invention to search a database for a library of available games.
  • FIG. 7 is a screen shot of a gaming machine employing the alternative embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 6 to search a database for a library of available games.
  • FIG. 8 is a ticket that may be used in one embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a ticket stand that may be used in one embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • One embodiment of the present invention may be deployed on a gaming machine or gaming device 100 as illustrated in FIG. 1. Gaming machine 100 has the features of a conventional slot machine. The gaming machine 100 shown in FIG. 1 is what is commonly referred to as an upright slot machine and the player can operate it while standing or sitting. Most often the gaming machine 100 is preferably mounted on a cabinet. (Not shown.) Although an up-right slot machine 100 is shown in FIG. 1, it can be appreciated that the gaming machine 100 can be any other style of gaming machine known in the art including, but not limited to a pub-style table-top or slant-top game which a player can operate while sitting. The gaming machine 100 can be constructed with varying cabinet and display designs.
  • Gaming machine 100 can incorporate a variety of game types including, but not limited to slots, video poker, blackjack, keno or bingo. The symbols used on and in gaming machine 100 may be displayed in mechanical, electrical, electronic or video form. Gaming machine 100 shown in FIG. 1 has a video display 105 for displaying symbols.
  • It should be appreciated that the display devices may display any visual representation or exhibition, including but not limited to video images or movement of physical objects such as mechanical reels and wheels. The display devices can be a video monitor or screen, a liquid crystal display or any other display mechanism. Furthermore, it should be appreciated that these display devices may preferably include touchscreens.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, gaming machine 100 preferably includes one or more value accepting mechanisms. The primary value accepting mechanism on the gaming machine 100 shown in FIG. 1 may be a bill validator 110. The bill validator 110 may also accept other forms of payment including, but not limited to tickets, smart cards, debit cards and credit cards. Alternatively, some of these forms of payment may be accepted through a card reader 130. The card reader 130 may include any type of card reading device, such as a magnetic card reader or an optical card reader. The player will insert a card, such as a player tracking card or a credit card into the card reader 130 which will then read data from the card. The card reader 130 may be used to read and/or write from and/or to the inserted card. There is also a coin slot 120 on the gaming machine 100 in which a player can insert coins or tokens.
  • After a player inserts money in the gaming machine 100, either via the coin slot 120, the bill validator 1 10 or the card reader 130, or other means a number of credits corresponding to the amount deposited is shown in a credit display 140. After money is credited to the machine 100 and shown on the credit display 140, the player then determines the wager amount. The machine 100 may have any number of mechanisms known in the art for allowing a player to determine his wager. For example, in the case of a multi-line slot game as shown in FIG. 1, the player may determine the amount of paylines he wishes to wager on by pushing a bet one line button 155 a number of times corresponding to the number of paylines he wishes to bet. Then the player may determine the wager amount per payline by pushing a bet one credit button 170 an appropriate number of times. The product is the player's total wager. As the player is selecting the wager amount, this wager amount is displayed on a bet display 160. As the bet display 160 amount is incrementing, the credit meter 140 amount is decreasing by the corresponding amount.
  • Although FIG. 1 displays a five reel video slot machine with three rows of symbols, it can be appreciated that any configuration of video or mechanical reels can be used in the gaming machine 100 according to the invention as well as any corresponding number of paylines as known in the art. Each reel often displays symbols. The symbols may include cherries, sevens, bars and the like traditionally used on slot machines or any other symbol created by the manufacturer. The specific display of the symbols after each play determine the payout, if any made by the gaming machine 100.
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the general electronic configuration that may be incorporated in the gaming machine 100. The configuration preferably includes a processor 200. The processor 200 is preferably a microcontroller-based platform or microprocessor which is capable of displaying images, symbols and other symbol such as images of people, characters, places, things and faces of cards. One or more secondary processors may also be employed in conjunction with the primary processor 200 to control certain aspects of the game function.
  • The gaming machine 100 also includes a memory device 210 for storing program code or other data. This memory device 210 can include both read only memory (ROM) 205 and random access memory (RAM) 207 and preferably includes a mass storage device that can be written to in situ, such as a hard drive 206. In addition to the memory device 210, the electronic configuration of the gaming machine 100 may also include one or more input devices 220, one or more display devices 230, a sound card 240, and one or more speakers 250.
  • The input devices 220 may include but are not limited to a primary spin button 145, a bet one credit button 170, a max bet button 150, a cash out button 180 and a bet one line button 155. In situations where a touch screen 260 is used, a touch screen controller 265 and touch screen 260 are connected to a video controller 270 and the processor 200.
  • Although FIG. 2 shows the processor 200 and memory device 210 residing on the gaming machine 100, it should be appreciated that it is possible for both the processor 200 and memory device 210 to reside at a central location instead of at the gaming machine 100. In such a situation, a network server may be used to communicate to the gaming machine over an Internet connection, local area network (LAN), or wide area network (WAN). The processor 200 and memory device 210 are generally referred to herein as the controller.
  • Once the player has finalized his wager amount, the player may initiate play by pressing the primary spin button 145. In response to play initiation, the gaming machine 100 randomly displays a plurality of symbols on the video display 105. In the video configuration of the gaming machine 100 shown in FIG. 1, the symbols are displayed by simulating the spinning of the video reels as is known in the art. As used herein, “reels” will thus include both mechanical and video reels unless one type is specifically referenced. The processor 200 evaluates the displayed symbols on the selected paylines to determine if any winning combinations occurred. For each winning combination the credit meter 140 is incremented a predetermined amount.
  • In the preferred operation of the gaming machine, when a player no longer wishes to play, he activates the cash out button 180, which results in any amount on the credit meter 140 being paid to the player either by crediting a player's account, issuing a ticket by a ticket printer 135 or by depositing coins or tokens into a coin tray 190 through a coin chute 195.
  • The gaming machine 100 may also include an auxiliary video screen such as a player tracking screen 40 and an associated player tracking keyboard 50. These devices may be associated with the card reader 130.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, a gaming system 305 with a number of gaming machines 100 a, 100 b, 100 c and 100 d operatively connected to a central gaming server 300 by a network connection 340 is shown. The central gaming server 300 is also operatively connected to a gaming database 310. The central gaming server 300 preferably has an associated memory such as one or more hard drives and/or one or more associated memory devices such as DVDs, CDs or the like. The central gaming server 300 preferably maintains a library of game programs on its accessible memory that may be downloaded to the gaming machines 100 a, 100 b, 100 c and 100 d. The gaming database 310 may in fact be stored in the gaming server 300 or may merely be operatively connected to the gaming server 300. Additionally, the gaming database 310 may be connected to the Internet 320, such that a player may access the gaming database 310 using a personal computer 330. The gaming database 310, may also be accessed by a kiosk 315. Preferably, the gaming machines 100 a, 100 b, 100 c and 100 d, the gaming server 300 and the kiosk 315 are all located on a single casino property. However, the gaming machines 100 a, 100 b, 100 c and 100 d may be located on several different casino properties and the gaming server 300 may be located at a secure location controlled by either the game maker, a casino or a state gaming control agency.
  • In the alternative embodiment where each gaming machine 100 stores a library of games in its memory 210 and there is no network connection 340 to a central server 300. The memory 210 of each gaming device 100 will also store a database 310 corresponding to the games on the specific memory 210.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, the use of the present invention will now be described in greater detail. FIG. 4 shows the video display 105 of a gaming machine 100. The display has three main areas. First, there is a search bar 400, where one or more search terms may be displayed. On the example shown, the player has entered a search term 405 of “greek.” This search term 405 was entered using the second area on the video display 105, a touch-screen operable keyboard 410. Preferably, the keyboard 410 is a full size QWERTY key board displayed on the video display 105. The touch screen 260 allows the player to use the key board 410 to enter search terms into the search bar 400. The third section in the preferred embodiment is a pre-defined limitations section 420, that the player may use to further limit his search. The pre-defined limitations section 420 may use drop down type menus, but it also may allow a player to select multiple limitations from a variety of categories using check boxes. For instance, the pre-defined limitations section 420 shown allows a player to further limit his search by a “Game Type” category 430, a number of “Lines” category 431, a “Denomination” category 432, and a “Bonus/Secondary Game” category 433. Additionally, the pre-defined limitations section 420 includes a “Hit Frequency” category 435 and a “Volatility” category 436. These categories relate to the specific mathematical qualities of the games in the library. Because these two mathematical qualities may be nearly infinite in variation, a pair of slider bars 437 and 438 may be used to relatively select a game with a high or low hit frequency. In alternative embodiments, a player may enter a specific value for a desired hit frequency, e.g., 50%.
  • In addition to using search phrases and pre-defined limitations to locate a desired game or list of possible games, the gaming system 305 may provide the player the option of selecting from a pre-arranged group of games. For instance, if the player activates the “New Games” button 440 shown on FIG. 4, the player may be presented with a list of the ten games most recently added to the game library. While if the user selects the “My Old Favorites” button 441, the player may be presented with a list of the five games the player has played most frequently in the past year. Such information may be tracked using the player's tracking card and stored either locally at an individual casino or at a central site accessible by multiple casinos. Additionally, if the player selects the “Top Ten” button 443, the ten most popular games in the game library, as determined by the playing public, may be displayed. Finally, if the player selects the “Lucky Games” button 442, the player may be presented with, for instance, the ten games that on this particular day have hit the most jackpots. This would allow the player to make sure he is always playing what is perceived as the “hot” or “loose” game. Of course, these are just a few of the pre-arranged group of games that may be offered at the player's request.
  • Also shown on FIG. 4 is a “Help” button 401. Activating the Help button 401 may take the player to a second screen where the various features of the gaming system 305 may be explained. Also, this section may contain information that will be useful to the novice player such as definitions for terms like Hit Frequency that may be well understood by those familiar with the industry as well as by experienced slot players.
  • As is evident on FIG. 4, the exemplar player has entered a search term 405 of “greek” using the keyboard 410 and has further limited the search using the pre-defined limitations section 420. Specifically, the player has requested games with nine, fifteen or twenty or more lines using the “Lines” category 431 and has requested penny and nickel denomination games using the “Denomination” category 432. In operation, these search term(s)/limitations may be communicated to the gaming server 300 via the network connection 340. The gaming server 300 may then compare the search terms and limitations against the database 310. Once the gaming system 305 determines the games in the library that match the search terms and limitations, the gaming server 300 communicates the results to the requesting gaming machine 100.
  • The results for the exemplar search are shown on FIG. 5. FIG. 5 shows a plurality of descriptions 501, 502, 503 and 504 for four games that match the search criterion. Each game description shown includes the name of the game along with general information describing the reel layout, maximum number of lines played and denomination. The description also includes a brief description of the game theme, which may include information about any available bonuses or other features. Also included in the description is a graphical representation of some of the game's mathematical properties, specifically hit frequency and volatility. Other information may be included and some of the information shown may not be included in various embodiments of the present invention.
  • It should be appreciated by those familiar with gaming machines that the description 501 for the game “Greek Heroes” differs from the description 502 for a game of the same name. One noted difference is that the first description 501 is for a nine-line game, while the second description 502 is for a twenty line game. Although these are shown as two different entries, in other embodiments, the gaming system 305 may be configured to display games of the same title as a single entry. The player may then select the entry and be presented with a sub-screen where he chooses between, for instance, the nine-line and twenty-line versions. Each description 501, 502, 503 and 504 in FIG. 5 has a corresponding touch-screen “Play Now” button 505, 506, 507 and 508 that the player may activate to play the associated game. Alternatively, the player may just tap the description corresponding to the desired game to initiate play. Play initiation may require that the game program be downloaded from the central server 300 to the gaming machine 100 in order for the game to be played. Or, if the program for the selected game is already stored in the memory 210 of the gaming machine 100, play may begin immediately.
  • It should be appreciated that the last two game descriptions 503 and 504 shown on FIG. 5 do not have the word “greek” in either the title or the description of the game. However, because both game descriptions 503 and 504 involve game themes involving the Olympic Games, the game database 310 may have associated the word “Greek” and/or “Greece” with the games. Thus the search returned these two game descriptions 503 and 504 as matches to the search term.
  • Although it is preferable that the games in the game library are represented in a corresponding database of games, it would be possible for the same information stored in the database to be directly stored in the game programs themselves. Thus, in response to a search query, the gaming server 300 may search the game programs in its library rather than the corresponding database.
  • Referring now to FIG. 6, an alternative embodiment will now be described. In this embodiment the video display 105 is divided into a results section 601 and a search section 602. The results section 601 is showing a plurality of game icons 603 corresponding to the search parameters in the search section 602. Thus, the results section 601 in function closely resembles the second screen of the prior embodiment shown on FIG. 5. One difference between the results section 601 and FIG. 5 is that the results section 601 can be constantly updated in response to new search parameters and/or changed parameters in the search section 602. Additionally, when the player first accesses the disclosed system by, for instance pressing a “More Games” icon (not shown) on the gaming machine 100, the results section 601 may display a plurality of game icons 603 that the casino/operator is suggesting to the player. Because these games are chosen by the operator, additionally flexibility is provided. Additionally, the layout shown in FIG. 6 has the advantage of allowing a player to select a different game without having to enter any search information. Also shown in the results section are a “Next” button 604 and a “Previous” button 605 that allow a player to scroll through additional results if the number of game icons 603 corresponding to the search parameters exceeds the number that can be displayed in the results section 601.
  • The search parameters are entered by the player using the search section,602. As in the prior embodiment, the search section 602 includes an area of pre-defined limitations 420. While the prior embodiment used check boxes to select the pre-defined limitations 420, the present embodiment illustrates the use of drop down selections. Initially these selections will contain a non-limiting phrase such as “Any” as shown in the Lines category 431. The pre-defined limitations 420 may also include a “Themes/List” category 606. This category may include the preprogrammed groups such as New Games 440, My Old Favorites 441, Top Ten 443 and Lucky Games 442 shown in FIG. 4. In addition, the Themes/List category 606 may include other descriptors. One preferred list of Theme categories is as follows: Animals; Board Games; Cartoons; Famous People; Classic Games/Greatest Hits; Historical; Humorous; Lucky Symbols; Magic/Fantasy; Money, Jewels and Riches; Oceans/Water; Outdoors; Patriotic; Pop Culture; Progressive; Sports; TV and Movies; Wild Symbols/Multipliers. Other lists may of course be used without departing from the invention. A single game may be found in multiple themes. As each of the drop down limitations in the pre-defined limitations 420 is selected, the gaming database 310 is queried and the corresponding game icons 603 are displayed in the results section 601.
  • If the player activates an “Advance Search” button 608 in the search section 602 the search bar 405 and keyboard 410 are also displayed on the video display 105 as shown in FIG. 7. By initially hiding the keyboard 410 and search bar 405, it is submitted that players who may not be as technically savvy as other players will be less likely to find the disclosed interface overwhelming while still being able to find games that interest them out of a large library of games. As in the prior embodiment, the keyboard 410, in conjunction with the touch screen 260 allows the player to enter a search term 405 a into the search bar 400. The game icons 603 that meet search term 405 a as well as any parameters as defined in the pre-defined limitations area 420 are then displayed in the results section 601. If no games in the gaming database 310 meet all of the parameters entered, the gaming machine 100 may display close matches or prompt the player on how to best broaden the search.
  • FIG. 8 shows a ticket 801 that may be used in one embodiment of the present invention. The ticket 801 has a front 801 a and a back 801 b. The front of the ticket 801 a preferably includes an icon 802 identifying a game to a player as well as a machine readable identification, such as a bar code 803 as shown. The back of the ticket 801 b preferably includes a description of the game identified on the front 801 a and may also include a player readable code 804 identifying the game such as the PIN shown. As previously disclosed, such a ticket 801 may be printed by a player either at home by accessing the gaming database 310 remotely or at a kiosk 315 located in the casino. Additionally, the ticket 801 may be a pre-printed ticket that is provided directly to the player for instance as part of a direct mailing promotion run by the gaming manufacturer and/or a casino/operator or that the player selects from a game selection booth 900 such as the booth 900 shown in FIG. 9.
  • The game selection booth 900 preferably has the ability to physically display a large number of game icons and descriptions such as those found on the ticket 801 in a plurality of physical display positions 901. Thus, a player who is either unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the means provided for electronically searching the gaming database 310 may use the booth 900 to search through at least a portion of the gaming database 310 by reviewing the physical display positions 901. Preferably the games represented by the booth 900 will comprise at least one percent of the games available in the game database 310, and even more preferably between five and ten percent of the total games will be represented. In the booth 900 shown in FIG. 9, the physical display positions 901 are occupied by tickets 801. The tickets 801 are held in a tray 902 or other suitable holder such that a plurality of tickets 801 all corresponding to the same game title are stacked in a single position 901 with the game icon 802 being visible on the top most ticket 801 in the stack. The positions 901, and thus the tickets 801, may be physically divided into themes just as they were in the gaming database 310. However, in the booth 900 the theme may be indicated by one or more theme signs 903. After a player has located the ticket 801 indicating the game the player desires to play, he may remove the ticket 801 from the booth 900 and take it to a gaming machine 100. At the gaming machine 100 the ticket 801 may be fed into the bill validator 110 or some other reading device. In response, the gaming machine 100 would activate or download the game corresponding to the ticket 801. The ticket 801 may be returned to the player such that once the player finds a game he enjoys, he can keep the ticket 801 with him and use it at a number of different gaming machines 100. Alternatively, the ticket 801 may have a PIN 804 corresponding to the game such that the player may manually enter the PIN 804 into the gaming machine 100 to activate the desired game this may be performed using either the on-screen keyboard 410 and touch screen 260 or the player tracking keyboard 50.
  • There are additional methods for a player to use the physical display positions 901 to select a game and transport that selection to any number of gaming machines 100. For instance the display position 901 may contain game information that is permanently or semi-permanently attached to the booth 900. In response to a player touching a position 901 or an associated button (not shown), the booth 900 may print a ticket 801 using a ticket printer 906. Alternatively, the booth 900 may be equipped with one or more card readers 904 such that a player inserts a player tracking card, hotel key, credit card or the like and the booth 900 associates a particular game with the information read on the inserted card such that when the same card is inserted into the card reader 130 of a gaming machine 100, the associated game is activated/downloaded.
  • Additionally, the booth 900 may be combined with a kiosk 315 where the player may search the gaming database 310 and use the card reader 904 or ticket printer 906 to transport information about the select game to a gaming machine 100.
  • While this invention has been described with respect to several specific embodiments thereof, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, but rather that the invention is intended to cover various combinations, modifications and equivalent arrangements which will be apparent to those skilled in the art. It is thus to be understood that the invention should not be limited by the description, and that modifications and variations in the present invention may be made without departing from the novel aspects of this invention as defined in the following claims.

Claims (14)

  1. 1. A gaming system comprising:
    a central gaming server with a first memory for storing a plurality of game programs;
    a display center for physically displaying information about each game program in a first group of game programs, said first group of game programs comprising some of said plurality of game programs stored in said central gaming server, said display center allowing a player to select at least one of said game programs for play;
    a plurality of gaming machines operatively connected by a network to the central gaming server, each of said gaming machines comprising a cabinet, a processor capable of executing at least one of said game programs, a value accepting mechanism comprising at least one of either a ticket reader, bill validator or card reader, a payout mechanism, a wagering device for allowing a player to make a wager on the outcome of a spin of the at least one game program, and a display device for displaying the outcome of the at least one game program;
    a means for transporting data corresponding to the game program selected for play from said display center to one of said gaming machines;
    said gaming machine being programmed to execute the selected game program in response to receiving the data transported such that the player may play the selected game program at said gaming machine.
  2. 2. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the means for transporting comprises providing the player with a PIN at said display center that identifies at least one of said game programs and allowing the player to manually enter said PIN at said gaming machine.
  3. 3. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the means for transporting comprises providing the player with a ticket at said display center, said ticket having a machine readable code that may be read by said gaming machine.
  4. 4. The gaming system as defined in claim 3 wherein the ticket is preprinted.
  5. 5. The gaming system as defined in claim 3 wherein the ticket is printed at the display center in response to a player selecting a game program.
  6. 6. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the means for transporting comprises accepting a player tracking card at said display center and associating a game program with the information on said player tracking card such that when the player tracking card is inserted into a gaming machine the associated game program may be executed.
  7. 7. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs contains at least ten game programs.
  8. 8. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs contains at least twenty game programs.
  9. 9. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs contains at least fifty game programs.
  10. 10. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs contains at least ten percent of the game programs stored in the central gaming server.
  11. 11. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs contains at least five percent of the game programs stored in the central gaming server.
  12. 12. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs contains at least one percent of the game programs stored in the central gaming server.
  13. 13. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the display center is located inside a casino remotely from at least some of the gaming machines.
  14. 14. The gaming system as defined in claim 1 wherein the first group of game programs is subdivided into a plurality of subgroups by an identifying theme and the display center notifies players of the themes.
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